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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Theories

This page contains theories that join together two or more of variables and describes how these relate to each other in a theoretically interesting way. A theory is seen here as essentially a prediction for what would happen to a dependent variable, or outcome, based on the values of a set of independent variables. The combination of the independent variables and their values is seen as a sufficient, but not necessary, condition for the prediction of the value of the outcome. As a result, sesmad theories do not imply their logical inverses, where these are possible (e.g. a theory that states that A leads to B does not ensure that not-A leads to not-B). Theories that serve to act as a type of inverse for each other are classified as being complementary to each other.

Each variable is assigned a role in each theory, and variables can take on the following roles:

  • Independent variable: A variable that has some causal effect on another variable
  • Underlying independent variable: An independent variable that affects an outcome by affecting another, more proximate cause. Also referred to as a distal cause.
  • Proximate independent variable: An independent variable that directly affects an outcome without the help of an intermediary variable. Also referred to as a mediating variable.
  • Moderating independent variable: An independent variable that affects an outcome by affecting the relationship between another independent variable and this outcome. This creates what is commonly referred to as an “interaction effect.”
  • Outcome:
  • Intermediate outcome: An outcome that is affected by the independent variables in a theory, that in turn affects the final outcome (e.g. collective action of a commons user group)
  • Final outcome: The final outcome in a theory (e.g. the condition of an environmental commons as it is affected by levels of collective action.)

Additionally, theories can be related to each other in several ways. The following is a list of the types of relationships two theories can have with each other.

  • Nested: Theory A contains all of the variables that theory B contains, with either the same values or the inverse set of values.
  • Related: (Theory A and B have the same value for the same independent variable and predict the same value for the same final outcome, OR theory A and theory B have different values for the same independent variable and thus predict different values for the same final outcome), AND the two theories do not share the common independent variable via a shared theory that is nested within each.
  • Contradictory: Theory A and B have the same value for the same independent variable but predict a different value for the same final outcome. NOTE: because of the principle of equifinality, theories that have different values for the same independent variable and the same value for the same final outcome are not considered to be contradictory.

 

NameVariables
Centralization and corruptionCentralization, Commons political power, Leadership accountability, Commons condition trend
Rebound effectTechnology role, Commons condition trend
Numeric managementPolicy instrument, Metric diversity, Governance knowledge use, Actor scientific knowledge, Compliance, External sanctions, External monitoring, Commons condition trend
Failure of centralized controlCentralization, Metric diversity, External recognition, Governance knowledge use, Institutional diversity, Social-ecological fit, Commons condition trend, Commons user mobility, Actor traditional knowledge
Crowding in and participationParticipation in rule making, Compliance, Commons condition trend
Poverty and resource degradationEconomic status, Commons condition trend
Ecological effectiveness of MPAsGovernance system spatial extent, External sanctions, External monitoring, Policy instrument, PA IUCN strict zones, Governance system age, MPA internal natural boundaries, Transaction costs, Compliance, Commons condition trend
Political decentralization and fitCentralization, Governance knowledge use, Social-ecological fit, Commons condition trend
External recognition and local autonomyExternal recognition, Compliance, Social-ecological fit, Commons condition trend
Rational depletion of natural resourcesLivelihood alternatives, Productivity, Property regime, Commons condition trend
Interest heterogeneity and collective actionInterest heterogeneity, Collective action, Commons condition trend
Nested governanceMultiple levels, Commons condition trend
Marginalization and degradationMarkets, External support, Market scale, Economic status, Productivity, Economic dependence, Commons condition trend
Cultural heterogeneity and collective actionCultural heterogeneity, Collective action, Commons condition trend
Roving banditryCommons user mobility, Commons alternatives, Transaction costs, Resource market value, Market scale, Markets, Commons feedback visibility use, Roving bandit, Commons condition trend
Market-driven resource declineMarkets, Market scale, Transaction costs, Resource market value, Commons condition trend
Borlaug hypothesis and deforestationTechnology role, Productivity, Commons condition trend
Decentralization and elite captureCentralization, Social-ecological fit, Rights granting process, Actor traditional knowledge, Commons condition trend
Decentralization and leakageCentralization, Scale match, Social-ecological fit, Leakage, Commons condition trend
Polycentric comanagementGovernance knowledge use, Participation in rule making, External recognition, Centralization, Commons political power, Horizontal coordination, Multiple levels, Institutional diversity, Social-ecological fit, Actor adaptive capacity, Compliance, Commons condition trend
Accountable leadershipLeadership, Transaction costs, Leadership accountability, Leadership authority, Collective action, Commons condition trend
Environmental kuznets curveEconomic status, Technology role, Commons condition trend
Feedbacks and general resilienceCommons feedback speed use, Commons feedback visibility use, Actor adaptive capacity, Ecological resilience, Basin switch
Conditions for general resilienceEnvironmental monitoring, Commons feedback visibility use, Commons feedback speed use, Interest heterogeneity, Cultural heterogeneity, Actor group trust, Institutional diversity, Past collaboration, External Ecological Connectivity, Internal Ecological Connectivity, Metric diversity, Multiple levels, Actor traditional knowledge, Actor scientific knowledge, Leadership, Collective action, Biodiversity trend, Actor adaptive capacity, Leadership authority, Leadership accountability, Transaction costs, Ecological resilience, Commons condition trend, Basin switch
TranshumanceCommons user mobility, Property regime, Commons alternatives, Commons boundary negotiability, Productivity, Inter annual predictability, Intra annual predictability, Actor adaptive capacity, Commons condition trend
Pigouvian taxesPolicy instrument, External monitoring, Compliance, Transaction costs, External sanctions, Commons condition trend
Economic heterogeneity and collective actionEconomic heterogeneity, Collective action, Commons condition trend
Private property rights and conservationProperty regime, Property security, Conflict resolution, Transaction costs, Commons condition trend
Natural resource dependenceEconomic dependence, Collective action, Commons condition trend
Proportionality and collective-actionProportionality (of costs and benefits), Collective action, Commons condition trend
Participatory management Participation in rule making, Social-ecological fit, Commons condition trend
Group size and collective actionActor group size, Transaction costs, Collective action, Commons condition trend
User group boundariesActor group boundary clarity, Collective action, Outsider exclusion, Commons condition trend
Gilded trapsCommons scarcity, Resource market value, Biodiversity trend, Over-capitalization, Actor debt, Commons alternatives, Ecological resilience, Actor adaptive capacity, Economic dependence, Commons condition trend, Actor vulnerability
Bans and perverse incentivesPolicy instrument, External sanctions, External monitoring, Resource market value, Perverse incentives, Black markets, Compliance, Commons condition trend
Crowding out from external supportExternal support, Proportionality (of costs and benefits), Commons condition trend
Crowding out from external sanctioningExternal sanctions, Collective action, Compliance, Commons condition trend
Social memory and general resilienceActor scientific knowledge, Actor traditional knowledge, Actor adaptive capacity, Ecological resilience, Basin switch
Critique of fortress conservationPolicy instrument, PA IUCN strict zones, Centralization, Participation in PA siting, Livelihood alternatives, External sanctions, External monitoring, Cultural services condition, User-commons proximity, Participation in rule making, User group well-being change, Leakage, Compliance, Commons condition trend
Collective action and the commonsCollective action, Commons condition trend
Commons boundaries and collective actionCommons boundaries, Collective action, Commons condition trend
CAR principles for conservation area designPA CAR principles, Policy instrument, Commons condition trend
Past collaboration and social capitalPast collaboration, Actor group trust, Collective action, Commons condition trend
The tragedy of the open-access commonsProperty regime, Property security, Commons condition trend
Forest transition theoryEconomic status, Commons condition trend
Technical solutions and shifting the burdenGovernance knowledge use, Causal level, Technology role, Commons feedback visibility use, Commons feedback speed use, Commons condition trend, Actor vulnerability
Individual transferable quotas (ITQs)Policy instrument, Metric diversity, Governance knowledge use, Property regime, Actor scientific knowledge, Commons condition trend
Metric diversity, biodiversity loss and resilienceMetric diversity, Biodiversity trend, Ecological resilience, Basin switch
Social diversity and general resilienceCultural heterogeneity, Interest heterogeneity, Actor adaptive capacity, Ecological resilience, Basin switch
Parametric managementPolicy instrument, Governance knowledge use, Self Sanctions, Self monitoring, Transaction costs, Actor traditional knowledge, Compliance, Commons condition trend
CBNRM design principlesExternal recognition, Actor group boundary clarity, Commons boundaries, Proportionality (of costs and benefits), Conflict resolution, Multiple levels, Participation in rule making, Social-ecological fit, Environmental monitoring, Self monitoring, Self Sanctions, Compliance, Outsider exclusion, Commons condition trend
Decentralization and local capacityCentralization, Past collaboration, External support, Commons condition trend
EnforcementSelf Sanctions, External monitoring, External sanctions, Self monitoring, Transaction costs, Compliance, Commons condition trend
Subsidies and perverse incentivesPolicy instrument, Perverse incentives, Over-capitalization, Commons condition trend
Payment for ecosystem services (PES)Policy instrument, External sanctions, Compliance, Property security, Transaction costs, External monitoring, Commons condition trend
Social-ecological fit theorySocial-ecological fit, Commons condition trend
Local livelihood and protected areasCultural services condition, Policy instrument, User group well-being change, Commons condition trend
Centralized conservationCentralization, Policy instrument, PA IUCN strict zones, User-commons proximity, External monitoring, Transaction costs, Compliance, External sanctions, Commons condition trend
Conflict resolution and collective actionConflict resolution, Transaction costs, Collective action, Commons condition trend
Transaction costs and collective actionTransaction costs, Collective action, Commons condition trend
Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM)Property regime, Interest heterogeneity, Cultural heterogeneity, Economic dependence, User-commons proximity, Governance knowledge use, Centralization, Actor group size, Commons feedback visibility use, Personal communication, Social-ecological fit, Actor group trust, Commons condition trend
EcolabelsPolicy instrument, Transaction costs, Compliance, External sanctions, External monitoring, Commons condition trend
Communication and collective actionPersonal communication, Actor group trust, Collective action, Commons condition trend
NameVariables